Columnists

Africa manufacturing should go green

climate
bitangendemo-ima

Summary

  • Green Manufacturing in Africa is possible and its benefits to the continent are immense.
  • A new McKinsey & Company study says achieving net-zero carbon emissions, while difficult, can provide enormous paybacks, including the creation of six million new green jobs.”
  • The study states that Africa has a significant motivation to strengthen its manufacturing sectors adaptive as it is one of the most vulnerable continents to climate change.

African countries are facing a myriad of challenges with the environmental dimension of sustainable development, including climate change, land and ecosystem degradation, and a highly urbanised population.

This calls for the continent to consider new ways of production and consumption and adaptation of Green Manufacturing — a key indicator of economic growth.

Green Manufacturing in Africa is possible and its benefits to the continent are immense. A new McKinsey & Company study says achieving net-zero carbon emissions, while difficult, can provide enormous paybacks, including the creation of six million new green jobs.”

The study states that Africa has a significant motivation to strengthen its manufacturing sectors adaptive as it is one of the most vulnerable continents to climate change.

It further estimates that reaching net-zero carbon would require an additional $2 trillion in industry and power investments over the next 30 years.

Decarbonising these industries, on the other hand, can provide growth and job creation without adding to emissions, allowing Africa to stay globally competitive.

Therefore, it is important that countries in Africa begin a transition to a low-carbon economic pathway by integrating scalable low–carbon business models, mitigation measures and strategies into their policies, and resource mobilisation.

What is Green Manufacturing? It is, in essence, the “greening” of manufacturing, with employees utilising fewer natural resources, producing less pollution and waste, recycling and reusing materials, and moderating emissions in their processes.

Green manufacturers do research, develop, or implement technology and procedures that reduce their environmental effect.

Their bankable low–carbon business models have a strong opportunity for advancing green business and sustainable consumption and production and can create economic value for local communities in terms of employment, business opportunities and income-generation.

The McKinsey report estimates that by 2050 African emissions from manufacturing could more than double if the continent fails to act now.

Some countries have taken the painful decision to switch to renewables for a better environment. They have also imposed taxes that could undermine Africa’s competitiveness globally.

It is therefore in the interest of Africans to proactively make commitments to the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG)-emitting industries.

Africa has the greatest potential to succeed in green manufacturing since the continent is yet to build GHG-emitting industries.

This is an opportunity for Africa to skip high-emitting manufacturing technology and start from scratch with a low-carbon manufacturing sector.

This means Africa might save money in the long run by avoiding the costly shift from legacy fossil fuel-dependent manufacturing to renewables that the developed world is experiencing, while also establishing a competitive and resilient economy that is not reliant on resources that are becoming increasingly expensive.

To make green manufacturing a reality, South Africa last week started to act in earnest by submitting a National Determined Contribution (NDC) to mitigating GHG emissions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

In its proposal, which will be discussed in November 2021 at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, South Africa wants support in repowering and repurposing retiring coal plants, investment in new low-carbon generation capacity and transmission and distribution infrastructure.

On the other hand, Africa could adopt the global NDC-guided scenario which assumes their NDC commitments under the Paris Agreement and make no additional effort to decarbonise in line with the global average.

New pledges from governments and corporations, on the other hand, would help Africa gain traction by contributing to a more stringent abatement approach.